Bernd Stange's men could have been out of sight by half-time but were not too convincing in the second half as they took the win ahead of next week's clash with Syria
A youthful Singapore side fought out a narrow 1-0 win against Laos in their international friendly on Thursday night, which serves as a warm-up ahead of the Syria game next week.
The Lions wasted several chances in the first half to add to Khairul Amri’s opener, and visibly tailed off after the break to see out the game in front of 1,812 supporters at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Metz FC starlet Adam Swandi was handed his first start, while LionsXII defender Madhu Mohana made his debut at right-back as Singapore coach Bernd Stange fielded a side with three players over 23.
With the SEA Games on their mind, their opponents lined up with an even more youthful side as Kokichi Kimura opted for only one over-age player in Khampheng Sayavutthi.
The Lions got off to the perfect start when Khairul Amri easily tapped in Hafiz Sujad’s low cross from the left 80 seconds into the match, after Shakir Hamzah had set the latter up with a neat flick.
They stuck to the short passing game advocated by coach Bernd Stange thereafter, with 18-year-old Adam looking particularly lively.
Amri was denied a second in the 10th minute when Seng-athit Somvang acrobatically tipped over his header at the near post, after he rose to meet Shahfiq Ghani’s freekick.
The Singapore players certainly looked like they were taking coach Bernd Stange’s passing philosophy to heart, but Laos were always going to prove a menace on the break with their speed.
And so it proved right after the corner from Amri’s saved header, with Vilayout Xayyabounsou racing clear down the right; only a last-ditch block from Madhu prevented a shot.
Amri next had two good chances to grab a second, first blasting wildly over from the right before then toe-poking an effort straight at the goalkeeper after some good build-up play.
Safuwan Bahadurin should have extended their lead but he somehow failed to touch Zulfahmi Arifin’s free-kick in from close range, then Baihakki Khaizan’s flick-on at the near post was just too high for Amri at the other post.
Shakir then had to be taken off for Shaiful Esah on the half-hour due to injury, as the tempo of the Lions’ game started to drop with the break approaching.
An ambitious lob from the centre circle by Safuwan was easily held by Somvang, with the goalkeeper having to bat away a weak effort from the same player three minutes later.
The second half was a duller affair, with Singapore struggling to fashion chances from open play as Laos settled into the game more.
The first real opportunity of the half fell to Amri, who raced clear down down the right but failed miserably in his attempt to dink the ball over Somvang.
The Laos custodian then had to stretch to make his next save, tipping over Shaiful’s free-kick as it dipped towards the far corner.
Shortly before that, Shahril Ishak made his return from injury as he entered the fray, with Sahil Suhaimi also brought on for his first cap.
Shahdan Sulaiman executed a neat one-two with Sahil in the 72nd minute and got on to the return pass in the box, but dragged his low effort wide of the far post.
Found by Shaiful in a closer position on the same right side minutes later, Shahril saw his attempt come off Somvang and then the post as the Lions spurned yet another chance.
Deep in injury time, Sahil headed Hariss Harun’s cross over from an unmarked position as the Lions failed to add another goal, leaving them to come away with a slender and perhaps unconvincing victory ahead of the 2015 Asian Cup qualifier next Tuesday.